In fact – skimping on zzz's compromises everything from your immune system to your memory.
When we sleep not only are we getting some much-needed rest from our increasingly busy lives, we are also allowing out body to pretty much regenerate and renew itself. It's true. For instance, evidence suggests that the brain’s trillions of nerve cells literally rewire themselves when we sleep, and as for our skin – well, there is a reason it is called beauty sleep, you know.
Getting enough sleep is all sorts of good for our health, and can actually reduce your risk for heart problems, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer.
The general advice is that we should aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep at night, something many of us struggle to get. However, sometimes small changes can end up having big and long-lasting effects, and if you are struggling with your sleep, try making one (or all) of these adjustments and see how you get on:
1. Ditch the afternoon latte
If you have trouble falling asleep at night or if your sleep is restless, caffeine may be the issue. Our ability to recover from the effect of caffeine diminishes as we age, so it may be time to give up late-night coffees—or even late-afternoon ones.
Experts are out on whether or not herbal teas actually have an effect of sleep, but what we do know is that a calming evening routine can massively improve your chance of falling asleep when you head hits the pillow.
Entering sleep in a more relaxed state aids in the quality of sleep you get. Even if tea isn't a cure-all in terms of sleep, it's also not detrimental.
3. Put your phone away three hours before bedtime
Look, we know this already – but tech use is not doing our sleep any favours. Stop using your phone as an alarm, invest in an actual alarm clock, and trade your Kindle for an actual paperback. In fact, you should switch off all tech three hours before you go to bed – try it and you'll soon see a difference.
4. Make a playlist of calming music
Instead of scrolling through Insta, try listening to some soothing music to help you relax before bedtime. Spotify is your best friend, and while you are at it, make a wake-up-happy play list for the morning too – bound to make you feel more awake in no-time.
A number of studies have found a link between a low level of magnesium and sleep disorders. While supplements may deliver a magnesium boost, eating more foods that are rich in magnesium, such as almonds, leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, fish, chicken and bananas, might be even better for you.
Hormones are what signal fatigue and help us fall asleep. They're also responsible for signaling hunger and maintaining our blood sugar levels. So, the more sugar we consume, and the more frequently we consume it, the more our hormones get involved in keeping our systems in check. Consuming sugar late at night, which makes our blood sugar levels spike and then crash, means we might be getting hunger signals when we should be in deep sleep. If you're not sleeping well, cut back on sugar and highly refined carbs and see whether you don't feel better in the morning.
7. Upgrade your bedlinens
Be honest – is there anything as nice as going to bed in fresh, clean, soft sheets? We think not – and there is no denying that a comfortable sleep environment does wonders for our sleep. Which is why, if you are going through a phase of not sleeping great, it can be a good idea to try to upgrade your bedlinens. Opt for natural fabrics that breathe, like cotton or linens, preferably organic ones, which will help keep you both cool and warm enough through the night.